Page 274 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 274

                JANE GONZALEZ-BASS
I have been with the breed for over 14 years. I am cur- rently the Bergamasco Sheep- dog Club’s secretary and also the Club’s judge’s education instructor. Should judges be interested in learning about the Bergamasco, please con- tact the club via email, bscam-
My husband, son and I live in Easton, Connecticut. We have our five dogs, a flock of chickens and one day, Norwe-
gian goats (husband does not know about this plan). My husband has a tax consulting firm and my son is currently working on his final Eagle Scout project with Boy Scout Troop 8, in Montclair, New Jersey and serves with the Civil Air Patrol 399th Squadron in Danbury, Connecticut. I work with dementia residents as a Memory Care Counselor at an assisted living facility. I am also a realtor spe- cializing in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Our Bergamascos are a part of our daily life and all are considered our family members.
Do I hope the breed’s will change or am I comfortable with the placement? Given we are a rare breed, a drastic change in numbers might be a huge red flag for irresponsible breeding or people import- ing dogs to be bred for money rather than the love and respect for the Bergamasco! As a breeder, I register every litter as well as include AKC owner transfer and individual puppy registration as a part of my puppy package. This will ensure each of my puppies are fully registered with the AKC. I do not leave it up to the new family. I believe it is important to track the number of Bergamas- cos each year so the parent club may have an accurate idea on how we are doing with increasing the overall Bergamasco numbers slow and steady.
Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? They are certainly an attention grabber. Seldom are they recognized as Bergamascos. I just use the frequent stops as a chance to educate people on the breed. Often with young children I use these casual walk experiences to teach the proper way to approach a dog. The little ones are just eye level with a large Bergamasco and they will often run right up to them waving their hands with squeals of excitement. Most Bergamascos just take it all in stride, even if it means their flocks are going to be braided.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Around seven weeks they seem to have a moment when their aspects are proportional. A brief glimpse of their bite, tail set, coat color- ing, etc. Around four months you can have an idea of their natural movement. A Bergamasco at six months in the show ring is still very much a puppy. Even at 18 months a Bergamasco has not reached their full structural development. They will continue to develop up to three years of age. And the coat is constantly changing through- out their lifetime.
The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? While the most apparent feature is the Bergamasco coat, it is not the most important. A Bergamasco should remain natural and rugged even when being presented with the poise of a show ring champion.
Any judge should be prepared to put their hands under the coat of the Bergamasco. Underneath those abundant flocks they will find a body, while built for strength and resistance, that is lean, built on sturdy bones with firm, limber muscles. This framework is well-muscled without ever being bulky or ponderous. Must be sufficient to support both the tending to the sheep and the calm
droving along steep and treacherous Alpine paths. Never so massive as to interfere with the resistant, efficient, agile movement.
Qui a 5 yr.old, and son Ewen with clipped coat at 15 months old. Photo is curtesy of Heather Robey.
My favorite dog show memory? I have two wonderful memo- ries. My very first show ring experience was at the Philadelphia dog show. Along the side of her handler, my happy two-year old Berga- masco entered the ring with such exuberance her entire backside was moving side to side. She stopped with a perfect free style stack and waited patiently for her turn. As the judge approached, within a blink of an eye she was on her back happily presenting her perfect tummy for belly rubs. We did not earn any points, but she certainly earned her nickname, the forever puppy!
Second: This past summer 27 beautiful Bergamascos entered the show ring at the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club’s First National Specialty. A stunning ring full of the top Bergamascos, ranging from young up-and-coming to the exquisite, accomplished veter- ans. A proud moment for every Bergamasco. Adding to the excite- ment of the day, the Best of Breed was awarded to my Grand Cham- pion, Mikka. She went on to earn a Group Two placement in the Herding Group.
The Bergamasco is a magnificent breed, over the recent years an increased interest has arisen among the show world/breeders. I sincerely hope these people are entering the rare breed community for the right reasons. I hope these enthusiasts join the AKC Ber- gamasco community and not only help develop the Bergamasco numbers, but will also be able to demonstrate their great qualities to the fullest, respecting their history and function. Only a small number of people work to increase public awareness of this breed which benefits all. It is a small community. All are welcome.
I have had herding dogs for over 50 years. My mother and I first got an Old English Sheepdog when the Shaggy Dog movie came out in the 60s. From there we had Bri- ards and Bearded Collies and twelve years ago when I was teaching, a dad walked into the classroom with a Berga- masco puppy in his arms and that was it for me! Our first Bergamasco is still with us, but sadly has terrible hips and our second who was closely
related to the first died at eight years to cancer. I was determined to help preserve this breed with good health, so I found mentors in Europe and Spellbound Bergamascos was born. I have since bred three litters from their healthy lines!
We live in California, ten miles north of San Francisco. We also have a small farm near Redding where we raise Alpacas. My family loves to ski, hike, bike and sail or kayak on our local lake.

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